It may seem crazy now, but things didn't look all that good heading into the 2012 season. Coming off back-to-back 8-5 seasons, Notre Dame had just given away the Champs Sports Bowl to Florida State with a second-half collapse.
After saying goodbye to three offensive coaches in the offseason, Kelly rebooted the offense under safeties coach Chuck Martin's direction. But with a first-year quarterback at the helm and needing to replace first-round draft picks Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith, questions swirled around Brian Kelly and his football program.
But an undefeated regular season erased a lot of those questions. Faced with a schedule that on paper was the toughest in the country, the Irish's run to the BCS title game in Brian Kelly's third season was the high point for Notre Dame football since the Lou Holtz era.
Can the 2014 team make the same type of dream run? With new coordinators on both sides of the football and the departure of four players who could be drafted in the first two rounds, the challenges are significant.
Let's take a look at both teams, as we compare the 2014 team to the 2012 squad that went 12-1.